Lora Turtles, Night Walks, and Red Flashlights - My Family Travels

On July 1, 2010, I got back from Costa Rica. Back from the hot days and rainy afternoons. Back from the graveyard shift night walks.

Overall, the trip with the teen summer program Rustic Pathways was amazing. Although I was slightly apprehensive because of the small group number, the trip was still a blast.
We first arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica where we boarded a bus and took a 5-hour long bus ride to Playa Camaronal. Our group would stay there for five days, where we'd do labor (such as shoveling sand to extend the hatchery, cleaning the trash off the beach, and moving driftwood to clear the way for the turtles). Also, because most of the work was at night, it usually left the day-time free, when our group would visit an art museum and carve our own stamps or go zip-lining. At night, we'd have night walks, where a group of three would be accompanied by a guide and we'd patrol the beach for turtle tracks, following them to a nest or even a nesting turtle. Turtle sighting at Camaronal were rare, although my group saw a Lora Turtle (or a Ridley Sea Turtle) lay about 115 eggs. Our group would dig up the eggs and place them in a outdoor hatchery. Similarly, our collaboration extended to other labor activities such as ridding the beach of driftwood. While one person couldn't lift a huge log, many people could together, and our group worked together to clear a section of the beach of everything from logs to sticks.
After all the work that we did in Camaronal, we took a 2-hour bus ride to Samara, where we stayed for a couple days to relax and have fun. The other kids in my group, Linden, Patrick and Emery, went surfing while I relaxed with Meredith (the counselor).
We then headed back to work at Playa Ostional, where the refuge was more research-oriented than the refuge at Playa Camaronal. At Ostional, we did night walks, but when we came across a turtle, we only tagged the turtles and took various measurements. I personally couldn't understand why the eggs were left to the mercy of egg-thieves (which were common in Costa Rica as turtle eggs were considered a delicacy to Costa Ricans) and stray dogs. In my opinion, to help preserve the turtle species, every egg should be, to the best of a refuge's abilities, protected and nurtured. Not sold to Costa Ricans for food in bags, as the refuge at Ostional did in times of a mass-nesting, or left to fend for themselves. Although I didn't quite agree with the actions of the refuge, I was determined the help the turtles in any way possible and I realized that due to the massive numbers of turtles arriving at Playa Ostional, saving every egg was nearly impossible. Instead, the information garnered from our observation of the turtles along with the money generated from tourism to see the turtles would indirectly positively affect the turtles- helping in an indirect manner, but helping nonetheless.
To do the same program I did, go to http://www.rusticpathways.com/costarica/nicoyaturtles.php for more information

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